Greetings, CHI Community! My name is Cara Jacob, I am a fifth-year PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology, and I am incredibly excited to be a CHI Fellow for the very first time.

In my research, I use a Feminist Political Ecology framework to understand and explain the gendered and racialized impacts of urban water insecurity in the United States. I spent the first 7 months of this year in Milwaukee, WI conducting my dissertation research on how different stakeholders (city government, non-profits, and affected community members) perceive issues of water insecurity in the context of the city’s ongoing childhood lead poisoning epidemic. Additionally, I am exploring how the residents of Milwaukee’s north side (a predominantly African American area of the city that is at the center of the epidemic) are experiencing and making sense of this toxic exposure.

One portion of my research involved working with members of a local parent education and advocacy organization to illustrate how lead exposure affects their daily lives. This was accomplished through a photovoice project, which is a community-based participatory research method that results in an exhibit of photographs taken by participants- in this case, to document what it is like living with lead- paired with narratives explaining what each photo represents. The intention is to create a tangible product from the research that is of some benefit to the participants, not just the researcher. My community partners are using the exhibit in their efforts to put a stop to childhood lead poisoning in their community.

I am not certain exactly what my CHI project is going to include, but I know for sure that I want one piece of it to involve creating an interactive, digital version of the photovoice exhibit that would be more practical and engaging (and more professional looking), than the physical exhibit boards we constructed on my shoestring research budget.

I’m sure that in learning from and working with my cohort of CHI fellows, my project goals will expand and change throughout the year, so please stay tuned to see how it all turns out!